Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekly Course Update

Springtime is the time in golf course maintenance in which everything happens at once. last week at this time I was talking about rain and how it hurt or helped aeration along with cart path restrictions for the weekend. What a difference a week makes. The grass is growing faster then we can mow it, we are still finishing aeration, the to do list is growing faster then we can check off completed tasks and believe it or not we will be irrigating the entire course tonight. Typical spring. I have no complaints though, for I realize that not everyone gets to come to work at a place as beautiful as this.

Core aerating the surround of #9 green this morning. Of all the areas we
aerate the green surrounds are the most tedious and labor intensive
 in that they require the most hand work to process and remove the
extracted cores
Today we finished core aeration of the green surrounds that were remaining when it started to rain last week.  We started the aeration process this spring on Monday April 2nd and have completed greens, fairways and green surrounds in three weeks. And last week of course it rained and stalled progress. Next aeration event our goal is to complete these areas in two weeks, weather permitting. This would not have been possible if not for the alternating F9 / B9 closures. 

Putting surfaces have recovered nicely. We gave them a light topdressing of sand this week and the vast majority of  aeration holes are now covered. We will start using walking greens mowers on them tomorrow along with rolling through the weekend. Next week brushing and additional surface management along with growth regulator applications and we should be close to our desired speed of 11 feet or close to it. When we checked green speed this morning the surfaces rolled just under 10 feet. 

Close up of recovery progress on the greens
just this past Monday 4/16/12.

Close up of recovery progress 4 days later on Friday

For the next two weeks we plan on aerating rough. We will probably target a couple, three holes a day, alternate front and back nine starts to allow for aeration cores to dry. Look for daily course updated from the golf shop to keep you appraised of progress and where we are working. Additionally we are going to start topdressing fairways and approaches next week and I'll explain more about that next week. 

Jogi on core processor. This machine grinds up the cores
which are a mix of organic matter and native soil.
This machine will make short work of aerating
 the rough next week. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Current Weather and Spring Aeration Progress

I have been asked on many occasions by members if rain will hurt us when it comes to turf aeration. There is no real short answer to that question except it depends on when it rains. The actual process requires dry conditions, so in that sense any rainfall either before or especially during an aeration process will hurt us. If it rains heavily, like it has this past week, we cannot proceed however the rain pounding on newly aerated putting surfaces can be beneficial. 

These type of conditions are difficult to play in much less
core aerate in. #12 fairway right after a downpour on Wednesday 4/11
Our current strategy for aeration greens is to punch 5/8" holes on a 1" X 2" pattern. This produces 48 holes per square foot and displaces close to 14% of the actual putting surface. This is considered an aggressive aeration by industry standards.  When the heavy rain we are currently experiencing subsides, all of those sand filled holes  will allow a tremendous amount of air to be "sucked" via  soil capillary forces into the root zone of the green. Air in the root zone is necessary for root growth and all plant functions so the more the merrier especially with a highly maintained putting surface. Another benefit with this heavy rain on the putting surfaces is the sand between the aeration holes will be driven into the turf canopy more effectively then it would if we were irrigating the green. Will the heavy rain help the greens recover sooner? The current storm has been warm and steady, so combined with the  above mentioned benefits along with the sunshine that will follow the storm, I think we could have a fairly rapid recovery.

This picture was taken this morning Friday 4/13/12 while it was
raining on our #2 green. Notice how there is no standing water and
no apparent sand or open aeration holes at least from this view.
The other side of the question does the rain hurt us during aeration has to do with progress. Because this process cannot be done when conditions are wet aeration progress is stalled. However we made great progress last week Monday 4/2/12 through Monday 4/9/12. We completed all putting surfaces, fairways and over half of the green surrounds, the areas that are difficult to do around member play. Additionally we were able to get the areas completed cleaned up much better on Tuesday after getting our vertical mowers up and running properly so at this point we are very happy with the progress on core aeration thus far, despite the weather. 

Close-up of #2 green taken at the same time as the picture above. The fuzzy yellow stuff is flowers from
the Oak Tree behind and to the right of the green. Notice again no standing water, and almost
covered aeration holes. 
Our plans for next week, Monday 4/16/12 through Friday 4/20/12 are as follows. We anticipate the soil still being too wet to continue core aeration on Monday but by Wednesday we should be good to go. On Wednesday we plan to have a normal front nine start and complete the green surrounds on #16 & #18. Thursday and Friday we plan to have back nine starts and to complete the green surrounds on hole #'s 4 through 9. The back nine starts will allow some drying so we can process the cores prior to the bulk of member play. I'll post another update next week with progress and plans for the following week. With any kind of luck we will have the entire property core aerated by the first part of May. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Aeration Progress and Plans - Week of 4/2/12 - 4/6/12

Aeration progress for the week of Mon. 4/2 through Fri. 4/6 has had it high points along with some low spots which is par for the course with this process. As previously mentioned putting surfaces were completed in total on Tuesday 4/3, pretty much seamlessly.  Throughout the next couple of weeks we will apply more fertilizer and add some light topdressings of sand to the greens as they recover. We will actually start to mow them daily next week starting Tue. 4/10, a week out from the actual aeration process. Look for the aeration holes to be grown over completely by the week of Mon. 4/23 and putting speed to return shortly afterward.

Fairway aerators pulling cores on #8 Thursday 4/5 in the
mid morning.

The high points of the week was the amount of progress we were able to achieve. By the end of Mon. 4/9 we will have completed all of the putting surfaces, all of the fairways and close to half of the areas around the greens or green surrounds. That is more area covered in six working days then has ever been covered here at Granite Bay. This amount of progress would not have been possible if not for the alternating F9 / B9 closures that we secured. Thanks to all for your patience and understanding.

A vertical mower working the approach in front of #12 green
The low points of the process really can be traced to soil moisture and it associated problems. The golf course received 1-1/2" of rain the week of 3/26, directly ahead of aeration week and another .30" of rain the night of Tue. 4/3. This produced wetter then ideal conditions, not so much to core aerate, but to clean up afterwards despite having no member play and a few hours of drying weather prior to processing. The evidence are areas in the fairways that appear to have flattened soil which is actually an aeration core that did not extract properly and was smashed in by a tire from a piece of  processing equipment. Some of these smashed cores are inevitable during the process and we typically deal with them by using a vertical mower which lifts the smashed plugs from the turf canopy and chops them up. Unfortunately we had problems with that machine and now have several areas on the course that we need to catch up with this process.

Closeup of a vertical mowing cutting unit. The blades are vertical

to the horizontal shaft and slice down into the turf canopy dislodging

 smashed aeration cores and thinning the actual turf stand. 

Example of some tire tracks which
consist of in part smashed aeration

So our goal for next week, the week of Mon.4/9 is to finish core aeration of all  green surrounds and get all fairways vertical mowed and cleaned up properly. The vertical mowing in the fairways  has to be done in the afternoon when it is dry so we will bounce around member play and get it done. The remaining core aeration around the surrounds can be achieved by some different front nine and back nine starts. If we acheive this goal we will core aerated as much area in two weeks as would have normally taken us four to five weeks. The goal is  achievable as long as we don't get more rain next week although some is forecasted. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012 Course Aeration Progress

In our previous update I mentioned a change of plans and alteration of our aeration schedule due to forcasted wet weather for aeration week. At the time we altered our plans, the weather forecast was calling for a 40% chance of showers for yesterday in which we had back nine greens scheduled for aeration. We decided to aerate all regulation greens on Tuesday ahead of the forecasted showers to stay on schedule. As we all know  weather forecasts change but we still decided to stick to our altered plan and get the greens out of the way on Tuesday ahead of what was inevitably .30" rain that night.

#12 fairway with removed cores on the surface drying
in the sun.
The Granite Bay Golf Club's weather station has recorded .80" of precipitation since last Saturday making the course a little wetter then ideal for the process, particularly in the fairways. However there is allot of scheduling, equipment and man-power go into this process and with newly negotiated additional alternating closures we are aware of the burden this places on the golfing membership. We desperately want to get the job done properly and in a timely fashion so with clear weather yesterday  we decided to keep the back nine closed and proceed as planned with fairways. 

Once these cores are dried we process them with this machine
called a core processor. After this we drag the fairway with
a large drag mat then blow and vacuum up the remnants. 

So by the end of Wednesday evening we were able to complete all putting surfaces and fairways #10 through #16. Ground conditions were a little on the wet side and we had the normal amount of equipment malfunctions but we were able to muddle through and get this far actually putting us ahead of schedule. So our plan is now to get through fairways #1 through #6 today with the front nine closed, stay on schedule and close the back nine tomorrow and finish fairways #17 & #18. Additionally we will start green surrounds on the back nine tomorrow targeting #'s 10,11,12,15 & #13. Fortunately for GCM we have no scheduled events this coming Monday giving us the opportunity to finish front nine fairways #8 & #9 and to get started on surrounds on the front side as well. All of this will allow us to forgo the planned front nine  / back nine closures we had planned for April 17th & 18th as GCM will have a few surrounds to finish next week which we can do properly by utilizing front nine and back nine starts.